Big, round delts make good bodies look great. And strong, functional shoulders make your good lifts even better. Here’s how Lawrence Ballenger trains his shoulders for boulder size and strength!
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Today’s shoulder workout is going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to start with some heavy, compound lifts to build overall strength and mass, and then get our pump on with lighter isolation lifts. This approach lets us build massive boulders and then chisel them into pure sculpture.
There are only seven exercises in this workout, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It’s your responsibility to keep the intensity high. Nobody is going to build your dream physique for you.
During this workout, clear your mind of everything but the iron. Focus just on your lifts and building your best self. That’s how you find success.
LAWRENCE BALLENGER’S SHOULDER WORKOUT: Boulder Shoulders Workout
It’s really important to warm up before you begin this workout. Aside from spending some time on the treadmill, I like to warm up my rotator cuff by doing internal and external shoulder rotations and arm circles.
I do this because I want to avoid injuries. Your shoulders are involved in pretty much every exercise you do, so it’s imperative to keep them healthy.
When I don’t have a spotter, I like to do seated military presses inside a power rack. Use the warm-up sets to set up the correct movement pattern and work up to your heavy weight. You’ve only got six reps per set, so that means you get to pile on the plates!
I set the incline bench pretty high when I do this exercise. If you like to use less incline, that’s totally fine. The Arnold press can help you add a lot of power and size to the front delt, which is perfect because that muscle seems to be a place where many people are lacking. Round shoulders are great because they show off the width of your body and make your arms look fully developed.
The focus of lateral raises is the squeeze and control. Don’t just throw the weight up; control the movement through the entire range of motion. Squeeze the shoulder on the way up. On the way down, keep tension on the delts by stopping before your arm rests against your body.
Because you can’t use any momentum and you keep tension on the muscles for so long, you may have to use lighter weight. That’s fine. Don’t worry about how big the dumbbell is. Worry about keeping your shoulder contracted throughout the whole exercise.
Again, focus on the squeeze. As you go through the sets, you’ll notice that your range of motion might decrease. Sometimes, the delt gets so full of blood it might be hard to contract the muscle fully. Bang these reps out and keep moving.
By alternating the working muscles, you can isolate each front delt. The best part about doing this on an incline is that it really stretches the target area. The more muscle fibers you can stretch and contract, the bigger your delts can become!
A lot of people think they hit their rear delts enough on their back days, but I think it’s important to do a little more work because the rear delts are a highly neglected area. Your shoulders look rounder and thicker when you have big rear delts.
For this exercise, keep your elbows fairly straight and parallel to the ground. Squeeze the heck out of your delts.
Pile up the weight and start shrugging! Shrugs are usually a strong movement for most people. I like to use straps because my grip fatigues by the end of the workout. Use a slight pause at the top for peak contraction.
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